New paper from Felicia Keesing’s lab was published in Nature Sustainability. Globally, most wildlife live outside of protected areas, creating potential conflicts. Keesing et al. assess tradeoffs between management for wildlife and for livestock in an East African savanna (pictured), finding potential benefits from integrating the two.
Full citation and link: Keesing, F., Ostfeld, R. S., Okanga, S., Huckett, S., Bayles, B. R., Chaplin-Kramer, R., … & Warui, C. M. (2018). Consequences of integrating livestock and wildlife in an African savanna. Nature Sustainability, 1(10), 566.
Biology Seminars happen in the RKC auditorium every Thursday at noon. The schedule for Fall 2018:
Sep 13: Scott Chimeleski, Harvard University. Imaging Microbial Activity through a Macro Lens
Sep 20: Alexandra Purdy, Amherst College. Bacterial regulatory networks controlling both host and microbe metabolism: a tale in two Vibrios
Sep 27: Lucija Peterlin Masic, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. New DNA Gyrase B inhibitors effective again ESCAPE pathogens
Oct 4: Jason Breves, Skidmore College. Salt and water balance in fishes: endocrine mechanisms of environmental adaptation
Oct 11: no seminar, fall break
Oct 18: Liza Comita, Yale School of Forestry. Who are the species in your neighborhood? Density-dependent interactions in a tropical tree community
Oct 25: Steve Franks, Fordham. Evolutionary Responses to Climate Change Revealed by the Resurrection Approach
Nov 1: Gabriel Perron, Bard College (title tba)
Nov 8: Vanisha Lakhina, Princeton University. Identifying genes that enhance neuronal health with age
Nov 15: Grace Barber, Pine Barrens. Ants, art, science education, and environmental conservation: A Bardian’s story
Nov 22: no seminar, Thanksgiving
Nov 29: Felicia Keesing, Bard College. How to have a meaningful summer
Dec 6: no seminar, Advising week in Biology program
Dec 13: Senior projects (names and titles will be known later)
We are very happy to announce that Dr. Heather Bennett has joined our program as Assistant Professor of Biology. Bennett received her BS from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and PhD in molecular biology, cellular biology, and biochemistry from Brown University. She was a Penn-PORT Fellow in neurology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her thesis, “Loss of Notch or JNK Signaling Results in FOXO Dependent Compensatory Sleep in C. elegans” received a Ford Foundation Graduate Dissertation Fellowship honorable mention. She has taught courses in molecular and behavior genetics of neurological disease and the genetics and biochemistry of development. Her work has been published in PLOS One and Journal of Immunology; and she has given talks at various universities on such subjects as “Using C. Elegans to investigate how animals survive in low oxygen conditions”; “How do worms sleep?”; and “C. Elegans to study sleep, stress, and neuronal circuitry in response to anoxic insult.” Dr. Bennett is a member of the Sleep Research Society, Genetics Society of America, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The lab of professor Eli Dueker published a new study on the microbial composition of fog in Maine and in the Namib Desert. Dr. Dueker and collaborators found that fog particles lift microorganisms off the surface of water, and deposit them inland, increasing the microbial diversity.
The study has made quite a splash in the press; look at these substantive and interesting reviews, one in The Atlantic, and this one on the Atlas Obscura website.
Professor Dueker was also invited for a radio interview at WAMC: you can listen to it here.
Full citation: Dueker, M. E. and S. Evans, R. Logan, and K. C. Weathers (2018). The biology of fog: results from coastal Maine and Namib Desert reveal common drivers of fog microbial composition. Science of the Total Environment 647: 1547-1556.
We are our own zoos, harboring about 39 trillion bacteria symbionts, about as many as our cells. These bacteria, collectively called our microbiome, are indispensable for our health; they fight our infections, process our food, guide our behavior, and protect us from diseases. So, when our bacteria are disrupted so is our health.
The recent research article, written by Bard graduate Dylan Dahan ’15 and professor Gabriel Perron, in collaboration with professors Brooke Jude and Felicia Keesing, used zebrafish as a model to investigate how arsenic poisoning affects fish microbiomes. The researchers found that microbiomes were readily affected, with striking consequences such as loss of bacterial community members and potential increases in antibiotic resistance.
Arsenic poising in contaminated drinking water affects over 60 million people in Bangladesh and West Bengal. This research will inform how contaminated water may be altering peoples microbiomes and thus supports the case for cleaning contaminated water.
Full citation: Dahan, D., Jude, B. A., Lamendella, R., Keesing, F., & Perron, G. G. (2018). Exposure to arsenic alters the microbiome of larval zebrafish. Frontiers in microbiology, 9.
On the photo: Dylan Dahan (class of 2015) presenting his data.
In recent years, many have speculated that climate change is the driving force behind the spike in cases of Lyme disease in the northeastern United States. It would be really useful for the public if we could use climate data to predict places and times at risk for Lyme disease. In her senior project, Sarah Weiner used public records from the United States Drought Monitor to create a climate index. Then, with guidance from professor Felicia Keesing, Sarah built statistical models to see whether this climate index could be used to predict year-to-year variation in Lyme disease incidence at the county level. Sarah found that climate is not a practical way to predict Lyme disease outbreaks, and that other factors, such as location, are much better predictors.
This spring semester, two Bard biology students (Maia Weisenhaus and Sadie Marvel) were enrolled in a microscopy tutorial with professor Brooke Jude. Every week they would come up with new ideas for projects, and then figured out how to do them as they went along. In the words of one of the students: “It’s fun to learn these microscopy techniques without the formal structure of being in a class. It’s very exploratory!”
You can see more photos from the tutorial on the tutorial tumblr.
Five biology students brought their senior project posters to the Hudson Valley Life Science Group (HVLSG) Spring Research Symposium, which was held at Vassar college this year. The conference was a blast, with about 30 students participating, and a great keynote lecture about frogs and owls (by Vassar professor Megan Gall).
Bard students enrolled in the Field Methods in Ecology course, taught by professor Cathy Collins, spent spring break in Costa Rica at the Firestone Center for Restoration Ecology. Students designed and executed studies to characterize rainforest microclimates, estimate diversity and abundance of butterflies, and quantify the biomass removed from the forest canopy by leaf cutter ants–all while being surrounded by the sloths, monkeys, anteaters, tarantulas, and toucans!
You can read more about their experience on the course blog, and see more photos at the blog photo album!
This winter the lab of professor Brooke Jude published nine draft genomes of bacteria endemic to the Hudson Valley watershed. This work is a result of several senior projects performed in the Biology program, and three graduated biology students (Alexandra Bettina, Georgia Doing, and Kelsey O’Brien) are now first authors on three publications!
Bettina, A. M., Doing, G., O’Brien, K., Perron, G. G., & Jude, B. A. (2018). Draft Genome Sequences of Phenotypically Distinct Janthinobacterium sp. Isolates Cultured from the Hudson Valley Watershed. Genome announcements, 6(3), e01426-17.
Doing, G., Perron, G. G., & Jude, B. A. (2018). Draft Genome Sequence of a Violacein-Producing Iodobacter sp. from the Hudson Valley Watershed. Genome announcements, 6(1), e01428-17.
O’Brien, K., Perron, G. G., & Jude, B. A. (2018). Draft Genome Sequence of a Red-Pigmented Janthinobacterium sp. Native to the Hudson Valley Watershed. Genome announcements, 6(1), e01429-17.